16 I thought to myself, "Look, I have grown and increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me; I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge." 17 Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind.
18 For with much wisdom comes much sorrow;
the more knowledge, the more grief.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Cul de sacs of life and the insane at the wheel
Ecclesiastes has always been one of my favorite books of scripture. I read it entirely differently now than I was taught to read it. Before, I was taught to read it as the "before" in the testimony of Solomon. The "after" was the last couple of verses.
I read it now as all "after," meaning, the thoughts are those of an enlightened man, not some fool with a bad attitude and whom hasn't "met Jesus." The Solomon of the fist chapter had already encountered God in a very real way. But his observations about life were precise.
Now, on this side of my personal rabbit hole experience (as in Alice and the rabbit hole) I identify with Solomon much better. I feel the beat of his heart like never before.
Some of my favorite (and previously confusing) verses are from the end of the first chapter:
This is the cul de sac I was speaking of. When you, one day, come to your senses and see the madness, you start to think and follow the truth like a torch. It first takes you out of the labyrinth with a great hope that the truth will set you free. But before long, you find yourself going against the flow of humanity more and more and the path becomes more lonely . . . until you reach the cul de sac . . . as I think Solomon did.
For me, there is no hope of that Christian utopia that I had always dreamt of. There is only confusion and further isolation.
You look over at the open ended freeway and you see the "Jesus Bus" full of happy people smiling and laughing and enjoying each others' company . . . but . . . the mad hatter is at the wheel.
I know the hatter is there because I've been listening to the Christian radio station this week (my binoculars into my Evangelical past) and the things I hear are truly mad. The sky is falling because Obama (the Muslim) is in power, Jesus is almost here, we are all going to die or be raptured any minute . . . Bush was our saint . . . Iraqi war was a good thing . . . please give a donation . . . global warming is part of the conspiracy . . . please give a donation . . . if you are one of those rare people who really do love God . . . then give a donation because God is behind this radio station . . . God told me these words this morning. And, just last night I heard a discussion with the president of the Southern Baptist Convention that "America got off course during the 60s. Before that we had a decent Christian country." He has no clue about history or culture. I wouldn't trade today's America for the one of the 1950s for anything.
I guess I feel this cul de sac more acutely this morning because of my animation, which I shared last time. I worked pretty darn hard on that. I wanted to see what it was like to peel back the layers of facade and pretending and see what a truly honest conversation between a post-evangelical and the evangelical pastor. I shared that video clip with several of my friends. The response . . . total silence. Nothing. Silence is the form of communication I hate the most because it carries no meaning. But my sense is, until I know better, that the shock of it made them speechless.
I see myself alone, in the cul de sac.
I use to get great comfort in imonk. I know others have brought this up on the forum (or at least in private e-mails) but I sense a change in course since the loss of Michael. Now, it seems to be more orthodox and "establishment." That is only to be expected. I mean, a blog can only take on the thoughts and personality of those who are writing it.
But I went back and re-read some of Mike's book. Maybe my memory had deceived me. As I read my late friends words I did sense that attitude of Jesus out of the establishment box. He seems to be open to people coming to terms with Jesus outside the bus.
Posted by MJ at 8:38 AM